How is a VPN and How it Works? (A Guide for Beginners)

Online privacy is one of the biggest concerns of our generation. As the Internet advances, so do the antics of cyber criminals causing us to be more concerned about our privacy and security online.

But thanks to tools like VPN (Virtual Private Networks), surfing the net is a lot safer. If you haven’t used a VPN tool before, you should; but before you download one or sign up for a subscription, here is some of the stuff you should know about a VPN firsthand.

In this article:

VPN in a Nutshell

VPN is a technology of encrypting Internet connection from one device or network to another. There are many ways to get a VPN (or should I say, use a VPN service).

The most common ones are VPN service providers, which offer downloadable apps that allow you to connect to the Internet anonymously.


Some VPN tools are free to use, with limited capabilities; many others provide paid options with a limited free trial or money-back guarantee. And, of course, these paid options come with more features, better security, and other perks.

To learn more about what VPN is and what it does, check out this page.

What Does a VPN do?

By now you know that by connecting through a VPN, your actual IP is hidden from the public. But this is not all a VPN does. Following are some of the main functions of a VPN.

Keeping browsing private

A VPN shields your Internet browsing and searching history from ISPs (Internet Service Providers). They are left only to see the trail of encrypted data traveling to the VPN server.

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Hide your location

Your IP address reveals your location. By connecting to a VPN, your location is masked, and your new location is the location of the VPN server you are connected to.

Aside from keeping your real IP hidden for privacy and security purposes, faking your actual location has many other perks. For instance, you are able to access regional-locked movie content in Hulu, Netflix and Disney+.

General Features of VPN

Server switching

Most VPN providers have networks of servers that span across many different countries. This provides great flexibility whether you want to connect to a server nearer to your location or you want to an IP of a specific country.

VPN Protocols

VPN protocols determine how data are passed through a connection. Some prioritize data encryption over speed, while some do the other way around.

Common VPN Protocols are OpenVPN, WireGuard, SSTP, L2TP, and PPTP.

No Logs Policy
VPN protocols

Image: VPN Protocols Explained, via

VPN providers that uphold a ‘No log policy’ that do not collect or log down any information transmitted through their network. This means none of your personal details are saved.

This may include:

  • Websites you visited.
  • Your browsing habits (time, duration, etc).
  • Apps you downloaded.
  • Things you searched for.
DNS Leak detection and prevention

A DNS leak happens when the VPN fails to protect your device’s DNS queries. And when this happens, your Internet activities will be exposed.

A good VPN provider usually takes care of that with their DNS Leak Detection and Prevention feature.

However, some configurations might be required, depending on the provider.

Multiple device connectivity

Unlike most licensed software and apps, most VPN apps allow you to connect to multiple devices simultaneously. That means all your devices can be connected to the Internet and protected.

Frequency Asked Questions:

1. What are the advantages of a VPN?

When you connect to a VPN, your data will be encrypted, thus making the connection more secure. VPN also allows you to bypass regionally-blocked websites and content. In short, it provides anonymity when you are on the Internet.

2. What are the disadvantages of a VPN?

Your connection can intermittently be unusually slow or disconnected when your VPN provider scrambles to connect you. Worse, some VPN providers may even sell your data to 3rd parties. Here’s a list of VPN disadvantages nobody is talking about.

3. Are there free VPN providers?

Yes. While most VPN providers charge for using them, some allow you to use them for free or at least provide a Free Plan. AtlasVPN, ProtonVPN, and Windscribe are some, to name a few. Check out our list of the best free VPN providers.

4. Which is the cheapest VPN service out there?

VPNs are usually charged on a subscription basis, and the longer the plan is, the cheaper it is when you break it down to monthly costs. As far as we know, AtlasVPN, CyberGhost, PureVPN, and SurfShark are among the most affordable in the market thus far. Check out our article on the Cheapest VPN Providers.

Wrapping up

Most of the VPN providers out there offer similar services. You will need to shop around and compare their features and prices to get one that fits you.

You don’t need to know the technicality of a VPN to protect yourself on the Internet; pick a good VPN provider that suits you in terms of budget and features offered.

If you do not have VPN yet and are looking to get one, I hope the information above is helpful in terms of helping you to get started.